Salt River Project’s controversial solar rates could change, but alternatives raise concerns

Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Sunrun Inc.

By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic

SRP’s solar rates are widely opposed by solar advocates but opponents say the alternatives are as bad or worse than current rates

Salt River Project officials are considering changes to solar rates that have bogged the public utility in controversy for years — but the changes aren’t appeasing many of the critics.

Opponents of the SRP solar rates say they are so difficult to understand and manage that they have prevented thousands of customers from installing solar in one of the sunniest parts of the country.

SRP officials contend the rates are fair and prevent non-solar customers from subsidizing those who install solar panels.

SRP managers proposed rate changes for all 1 million customers in December, and the elected officials who run the public utility will vote on the proposal March 25.

The action is set to come four years after SRP approved a required rate for solar customers called E-27. The change dramatically reduced the number of people installing solar in the utility’s territory because they made it about $50 a month more expensive to have solar.

Some are discouraged by the new proposals.

“Our initial analysis of the new rates is that they may actually be of less value to solar customers than E-27, which is sort of hard to imagine,” said Court Rich, an attorney with the Rose Law Group representing solar-leasing company Sunrun Inc.

Rich said that SRP was far ahead of other utilities when it launched the E-27 rate for solar customers, and many utilities around the country have since applied their own special rate plans to solar customers that are less punitive.

“Nobody has even gone within 100 miles of where SRP went,” Rich said. “Now is the time for them to re-evaluate this and get back into the fold of what other people have done.”

Rich pointed out that since SRP launched its E-27 rate, about 5,000 customers in SRP territory have installed solar, while more than 55,000 people in the neighboring territory of Arizona Public Service Co. have installed solar in the same time frame.

Those figures, Rich said, reflect how the rate wipes out the potential savings for customers with solar.


Solar panels, often installed on roofs, can reduce cooling costs by use the sun’s energy to power a home.(Photo11- Courtesy Elena Elisseeva
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February 2019